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In today’s episode, we get to listen again to Joe’s chat with Chris Lema, Liquid Web’s Vice President of Products and General Manager at LearnDash. He is a well-known blogger and public speaker, and leads the product teams to develop and launch Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce product lines.

Chris enthusiastically talks about the concept behind BeachPress and CaboPress, and what can potentially happen in these meetings. He also tackled the growth of e-commerce, how WooCommerce as an open platform creates more opportunities for a lot of businesses, and providing customers hassle-free access to plugin updates on their sites.

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 01:48 What is BeachPress?
  • 05:06 Be in a conversation with people in your circle
  • 07:21 The CaboPress
  • 12:31 Bringing SaaS people to CaboPress
  • 14:47 SaaS platforms that do e-commerce
  • 19:49 Looking at period over period growth
  • 22:45 Partnership with Glue
  • 27:01 The building blocks of a great storytelling
  • 33:16 Fun stuff and new pricing at Liquid Web
  • 35:18 Having e-commerce played out on open platforms
  • 38:33 The ability to update plugins automatically
  • 39:55 Find Chris online

Episode Resources:

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: Yo good WordPress people. Welcome back to the WP MRR podcast. Live from beach press I’m Joe.

Chris Lema: I’m C3 PO.

Joe Howard: And you’re listening to the WordPress business podcast. We’ve got three PO on the podcast this week. What’s going on 3:00 PM.

Chris Lema: I’m doing well.

Joe Howard: Good, good. What’s so we, I, every time we have a show, I’m always like, at some point we’ll have the real character on.

That’d be cool, but no three people on the show this week, but we do have the one and only Chris lemma on the podcast. I’m saying that. Right, right. Lemme see how it’s pronounced. Right.

Chris Lema: That’s right. You got it.

Joe Howard: All right. Solid cool, man. Well, this is great that I get to talk to you at beach press. Um, this is an events you’ve thrown for how many years now?

Chris Lema: Wow. I, uh, attended the second beach press. I co-hosted the third and now I’m running the fourth. So it’s run four times. I’ve been at three of them. Uh, the founder of beach press is a guy named Justin Sandon. Who’s up in. Oregon. And the first three were up there. This is the first one we’re doing in Southern California.

Joe Howard: Cool. I was looking around for Justin. I was like, okay, got to meet Justin, got to make sure he’s here. And then I was like, Ugh, I felt a little pressure. Like, oh, did I miss his name? Did I not meet him? But he’s not. He didn’t, wasn’t able to tend this time. Nope. He has a daughter. Who’s having a. Gotcha. Uh, priorities.

Great reason to not make it. Yeah, I was, I, uh, the word camp DC had its first word camp in a long time and I was super stoked to go. I didn’t end up going because I got married that day. So same thing. It was like, okay, I guess that was a good choice. But man, beat press awesome event, similar to a Cabo press.

Another event that you throw, get a bunch of people together to beach house talking WordPress coworking. It sounds like a party. And at sometimes it is a little bit of one, but a lot of it there’s a lot of value here. I just would love to dig in. Well, uh, the things you do with events, why do you end up joining things like beach press and actually kind of running them?

Chris Lema: So beach press specifically was a fantastic idea. I would have never come up with right Justin hadn’t. He wrote it on Twitter. Hey, why? Don’t a group of all of us who mostly work alone, uh, rent a big house on the beach and we’ll all co-work together. Wait a minute. We’re going to go to an event where we work.

And then when I went, right, it was fantastic. It was amazing. Cause there’s a lot of collaboration that. A lot of discussion while people are still getting their work done. And most people in the WordPress ecosystem don’t work for companies. They either work for their own or they’re freelancers, or they’re doing their own little initiatives and they work out of their house.

They work out of a coffee shop. So they’re alone a lot. And there’s lots of ways you mitigate that. You get on video calls and such, but doing something where everybody can get together, you have group meals, you hang out, you can ask questions or connect with someone that you haven’t met. I just thought it was a fantastic event.

And after the second one, there was a couple years of pause because it just hadn’t financially made sense to run it again. And it’s a lot of work. And so last year I approached Justin and. Can I help you, right. If I take care of all the finances, can we do it again? Right. And we did. And it turned out that the beach house that we rented and the week that we rented it in, it rained all week and for 10, and while it rained all week, we still had a great time.

It was a lot of fun, but then. There’s nothing anchoring this specifically to this beach three hours away from the Portland airport. So if we do it again next year, maybe we bring it down to Southern California, which my house is about 15 minutes from here. And so it makes it a lot easier to navigate and manage.

And I knew the company that rents these houses on the beach. And so, so we tried it right, and this year has been fantastic. People are enjoying themselves. I love working on bringing groups, people to get. Making sure that people engage well, making sure they eat well. And if you can take care of sleep and eating and bringing the right people together, there’s no limit to all of what happens after the fact, right?

Just because you created the right context and cup of press is a little bit like that, a little different, it’s not a coworking event. It’s a business event for folks predominantly in the WordPress ecosystem. And again, it’s all about create the right environment, help people relax, be really judicious about who’s invited and then give them the free time. Beyond the educational stuff, give them the free time to really.

Joe Howard: Yeah, I’ve talked with a few people and a few people have recorded podcasts here that we’ve talked about. This idea that it feels like if you get a bunch of WordPress business owners together, whether you’re a business owner or whether you’re just kind of a driven individual, whatever, there’s so much value in getting everyone together in one place so that you can have this feeling of like, we’re all kind of in it together.

Like we all have these challenges. We all have these maybe places we Excel as well as we can help other people with. But like, But it’s going to take a team effort. And that team effort is not just like my team, like at my company or your team or your company. It’s like, we’re all we can all be on the same WordPress team.

Right. And I think that’s added a lot of value to me. I mean, we had some conversations last night where, you know, I was, I was with you. And Steve. And I was like, man, I wish I had my notebook here. Like I can’t put, I’m not writing this stuff down, you know? And I’ve had a few moments like that with a bunch of people. So it’ll definitely be some, some stuff afterwards that I’ll have to come back on.

Chris Lema: Yeah. I think one of the things you discover is that, and you know, this podcast all about MRR or named MRR, you realize that someone else may have tried. That you are about to try and wouldn’t it be nice to have that conversation and be like, how did you do this?

Or what did you do? Right. So yesterday we’re sitting here and we’re talking with Mendel and he’s talking about this new initiative he’s doing. And he’s talking with Carrie deals and the two of them are having this conversation and I don’t want to interrupt, but I go. Right. Don’t make the price on cars this way may start with a basic price.

And then you use order bumps to do this other thing. And immediately you’re like, oh yeah, that changed. That solves this problem that solves this one. Well, why, why go through all of that? Where you build it on your own, you launch it on your own, you struggle with it on your own. And then you have to figure out how to experiment on your own.

Why not have places where you can connect and ask other questions? And then someone else says, oh, have you thought about this? Whether or not they do it right. Getting people together to spark the conversation and to. How would I drive my MRR up? How would I mitigate people who walk away? How do you know, how do I do conversion better or anything else in business?

You know, most of the people that you’re working with are worried about writing code or they’re worried about QA or support calls. So the business conversations are a lot harder to have. Paul some people together and have the conversation.

Joe Howard: Yeah, that’s true. So coming to things like Beatrice is very valuable for me in terms of my personal growth in terms of being a business owner in terms of pushing my business forward.

The other thing that I think is extremely valuable masterminds, I do the thing where I get people together and we’re very direct about, okay, we’re here to help each other solve problems. You know, we each present an issue. We each kind of have some commentary and talk about our own experiences with that.

And you always find that, of course. Help with your own challenge. We hear someone else have a challenge. You’re like, that’s kind of a challenge I have like that’s I have something in that vein that helps me too. And the whole conversation helps you as a whole and you come out of those calls and you’re just like, whoa, like, okay, like I can level up way faster now because I’ve just, someone took five minutes of their time to just say something.

And the same thing as you did yesterday, it was like this one thing just flipped. Like sometimes it’s hard to see when you’re in it, but if someone else is from outside, they have that experience or they have that viewpoint. They can just give you one little light bulb moment and you can switch it. So very cool.

So beach press and Cabo press is a little bit more, um, directed towards business owners. I guess this is more coworking, but that one’s more. Business development, maybe like similar to like, I don’t know, like a post status publish or like a or B in the same vein, I guess, as opposed to just publish or, uh, something more WordPress business centric.

Chris Lema: Yeah. I mean, in so far as post status publish or PressNomics or any of these, those are still pre the modality of that event is that you sit and you listen to a bunch of people talk. I don’t know about you, but what I can tell you is. It’s really easy to get overwhelmed and also tired and also take nothing away because a super cool idea that you got at nine got replaced by the next, oh, that could be interesting idea at 10, got replaced by the next idea that maybe I have this problem at 11 and by 12 and one and two and three.

And you’re like, I’m just, I’m beat. I’m tired. The modality of being in a sit down and listen only ingest. Is not the conference I wanted to go to anymore. Right. So Cabo press is completely unlike those events though. It targets some of the same audience and tries to deliver. In some cases, some similar value.

What you have at cobble press is an event where you have discussed. There’s no lectures. So you have, uh, someone who’s going to be the moderator of a conversation and they will kick off the conversation. So let’s see, you’re talking about how to raise prices, right? And particularly, you’re talking about how to raise prices in the service game or how to raise prices in the product game.

Joe Howard: It’s a good conversation because I’m always thinking about how to do this.

Chris Lema: So go on. So you get in a group and you start having a conversation. Well, yes, the moderator or the host of the conversation has deep experience to talk about. But there’s 20 other people in the group who like, here’s what I tried.

Here’s what I tried. And it worked. Here’s what I tried. And it didn’t work. Hey, how come this didn’t work? And you’re having a conversation, very engaging, but also that’s one of two conversations, two topics you cover in a day. So from nine to 10 30, there’s a discussion. And from 10 30 to noon, there’s a discussion.

And I sit for the day. So now you have. From 12 to the rest of the night, right. To let those thoughts percolate, you’re still with that audience. So you can circle back and say, Hey, you said you had this great idea. Can you tell me more? Like, it sounded great that service, but I have lots of questions. So then circle back and have more conversation and talk more.

Right. And that makes it for the most relaxed environment to potentially change your mind. Right. What we know is that people have to unfreeze. From the previous paradigms they’ve been in, then you have to inject new concepts and then they freeze those concepts back down. Right? You have to remove stress from the situation for people to unfreeze.

If people are super tense, stressed, upset, defensive, they’re not going to ingest new new ideas. Right? So I created an event that allows people to relax at the deepest levels of five star resort, you know, on a beautiful beach and unlimited food and drink. And then you get these people together and you start having these conversations.

The last year we did it. We included SAS people, right? Not necessarily WordPress specific. Great conversations. And then you have lunch in groups. So you have that consistency of circling back and talking to the same group every day. So you have that accountability, that consistency, and then the whole afternoons are free.

And so you see a lot of additional conversations, a lot of engagement people leave regularly with one or two, maybe three ideas that will completely change their business. We’ve seen companies triple their revenue in the course of a year, quadruple their revenue of course, a year because of a single idea that they took away.

And there’s no rules for me. You know, you can’t do that at a work camp. You can’t do that at an event that is connected specifically to the product in a way that there are certain rules. Right. My event, my conference run my way and I get to change all the rules and that was exciting to do.

Joe Howard: Yeah, that’s awesome. And I, I think there’s a lot of value in what you said about, I think a lot of people think, man, Thousand things I have to do with my business to improve things, to get more MRR, to improve sales, et cetera. And a lot of people are focused on if I make these hundred thousand small changes, that’ll have one big change, but a lot of the time it’s one, two, maybe three things that you see that are like, oh, let’s just switch this around or let’s do this a little differently.

And it totally changes the game for your business. We had a, we have a white label program that people could join previously. They could just say, well, I want to work with. We switched that to an application process instead. And that was like a very small change, but it made a huge difference in terms of like getting higher quality partners in there.

So, yeah, I think that’s a really cool and important concept for people that you sometimes want to take small steps, but sometimes you have to sit back and look at the bigger picture and really, really take that in. I went to MicroComp. To me, that was hugely eye-opening as someone who runs a business focused on MRR and subscription-based service learning about lifetime value, learning about churn for your business, all of the above.

It gave me a whole new viewpoint to look for. So it’s cool that you were bringing in people who work more in SAS and little less than WordPress, if not even in WordPress at all. Because I think that there’s an overlap there. That’s really powerful. You know, we’ve seen some success at offs by being in the middle of those two kinds of business, my business areas.

And I think other people can too. So was that kind of, you’re a participant, like looking out at SAS, people that you have some SAS people in your network. We were like, I think this would be a good match for you.

Chris Lema: So I started building SAS software in 98. 1998. So I’ve been doing SAS, predominantly enterprise software products back.

We call them first. We said websites. And then we said web applications. And then we said, application service providers. And then we changed to software as a service. So my default and my inclination is that everything should be SAS. And so that’s my first love. So when I went to the, I think it was the second MicroComp.

There was like three WordPress people there. Right. And I think last years I didn’t go to this year or this last year is with a year before, you know, I don’t know, like, you know, 50 people. Right.

Joe Howard: I went to the, I meet up there and it was like, oh, there are 50 people here. Like, I didn’t know this many WordPress people were like SAS.

Chris Lema: Yeah. Yeah. So it’s, it’s definitely, so I’ve always wanted to pull more SAS folks into Cal press because I felt like. When I’ve attempted to message to most of the owners in the WordPress space, specifically, product owners is shift to SAS shift to SAS. And so I thought, well, this year I can just bring some of them to help some of that conversation happen and help people.

Now they’ve heard me say it over and over. You know, they’re, they’re more ready to have the next conversation. I fundamentally think that every plugin developer who’s writing a plugin and selling a premium version should make it a SAS rather than just a standalone plugin.

Joe Howard: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. I think from what I’ve learned in this space, it’s a more scalable model, especially then.

Almost anything one time. I think that’s a kind of a good lead into things you’re doing at, at liquid web, actually been doing SAS for a long time, for most of your professional career, I guess, and have now kind of taken things over to liquid web, and we’ve been doing some awesome things there. I mean, you were kind of talking a little bit at the beginning of this trip about what last year looked like and just in what a shorter amount of time.

Done some pretty incredible stuff from what it sounds like I’m a big fan of liquid web, and it seems like you’ve really attacked the WordPress space in general. So you’ve found a really good way to bring in SAS and WordPress together and make it a significant revenue generator for liquid web as well. Do you wanna tell us a little bit about that.

Chris Lema: But sure. I mean, I think before I joined in, as we got ready to. They were like, Hey, we want to do WordPress. Cause there’s a lot of, a lot of customers in our liquid web base that already doing WordPress. So it makes sense for us to have a solution. And I was only kind of interested, right.

Cause I’m like, listen, there’s 10 other managed hosts that are doing WordPress. And frankly, they’re all doing a great job. Like it’s not like they all suck. They’re great. So I don’t know. What’s interesting about being the. But I said, I’m willing to do that. If we’re willing to go after managed commerce, right.

Which didn’t exist, there was a space we were going to create. That’s something that you had an eye on before LiquidWeb approached you and you were, and you kind of brought the idea with you to them saying, I’ll join if you want to do this. Yeah. That’s exactly what happened. So I had to ready. I’d taken a year off from.

Uh, I’d left crowd favorite. And I had spent a lot of time just kind of thinking through what I want to do next. And I’d started thinking about this notion of managed e-commerce hosting and even talk to a couple of hosting companies. And some were only kind of interested, not much, some others were focused on some other problem they want to solve.

So I gave the idea to liquid web without, without any assumption of, of being an employee. I just, they were consulting and they were asking about market sizes and strategy with it. And I said, here’s my playbook on WooCommerce. And then they came back and said, well, would you join and do it? We don’t just want the playbook.

We’d actually love someone who could just do the playbook and you do that, Chris. So that’s how I joined. And we went from having no products and no customers to now really seeing good traction, some obviously in WordPress, but a lot of good traction in this new space of management commerce. So it’s been fun, but the way I look at management commerce, Is I look at it as a SAS, right?

My competitor is not the awesome things that SiteGround’s doing because they’re doing amazing things. And I love those guys and it’s not what Ken’s doing. And I love what they’re doing with Google. And that’s awesome. It’s not what Paisley’s doing. And AWS and I go, oh, AWS is really powerful. My competitors are big commerce and Shopify, right?

Those are SAS platforms that do e-commerce and every review you read that looks at Shopify and WordPress or WooCommerce. You go, oh, it does this, it does it. Yeah. That’s a match. That’s a match. And you run all the way down. You get to the bottom of the page and it says, oh, but with WooCommerce, you need to do hosting and infrastructure. You’re in charge of that. And so then people go, oh, well then I’ll just use Shopify. Right.

Joe Howard: That friction kind of, it’s hard to get people, especially newer people who want to build a shop into WordPress when they need WordPress plus plus plus.

Chris Lema: And so. I just said, my take is let’s just go build a SAS for WooCommerce. And, um, that’s how we thought about it inside. And so we started doing stuff, which immediately, when you do that, when you think about it as a SAS, you also think immediately about integration partners, right? Like you couldn’t build any other SAS and not be connected to Stripe or not be connected, whatever.

Right? Like you just know when I build a SAS, I build integrations. So one of our first integrations with, with a company called glue, G L E w.io and a glue has the. Most and best e-commerce analytics reporting on the planet. And they had just stepped into WooCommerce. And so I called their CEO and said, your target is small business, my target small business.

I would like to bring your platform to us. And by the way, we know a lot about WooCommerce so we can help your code perform better and we can help you integrate and think through what’s going on with things like subscriptions. And the CEO was like, great, let’s go make a deal. Right. Let’s let’s chase after this together.

And so. Every customer who’s on our $250 and above plan gets glue included. And what’s crazy is for the customers that are paying. On average one 50. So under two 50, and they average anywhere between $39, our lowest plan up to just under 2 49. And if you take the average that the average person’s paying $150, but those people who are paying on it for D do not have glue.

And the average revenue from those stores is 300,000. But if you go up to our seven 50 plan or the average spends through video, we have some people paying 1500. We have some people paying more than that. We have a lot of others paying, uh, you know, seven 50. And when you, when you aggregate that, The average revenue per year is $11 million, right?

Joe Howard: That’s significantly more. I’d say.

Chris Lema: That’s a massive jump. Right? And part of what we give them is glue. And part of what glue gives them is like 24 automatic segments of, of data, of resources, of people. And who’s buying what and what they’re buying. It shows you the analytics on which products are selling better, which products are suddenly selling better over time.

Meaning period, over period comparisons. Store owners have access to that data without having to do anything without having to hire a data scientist. Their world changes.

Joe Howard: This is the, exactly what you were just talking about. One, two or three small things. You know, it, a lot of it comes from these analytics and if you have powerful analytics and you can say, oh, this is by far our most popular and most profitable product. Let’s triple down marketing on that. Then it changes the game.

Chris Lema: So imagine, and that you release a new t-shirt every week, right? Every week you release a new t-shirt. So then you have each team. You know, you had 50, 52 t-shirts a year that get released. Each one is going to start accruing orders. Right. And so you could compare them month over month, right?

And you could say, well, the average t-shirt over from its inception of launch, right? Until it hits, say a thousand orders, right. It’s going to take this average time. Or the flip side of that is on average per month, it generates X amount of sales. So what you really would want to do to figure out which t-shirt was going viral, which one was hot is you’d want to look at period over period growth.

Right? And if everyone else, period, over period growth is on average X. And this thing is X times 10. You’re like. I need to grab this shirt. I need to go to my WooCommerce database and who hasn’t bought this shirt. I need to take that list. I need to take a coupon, create a coupon against that shirt. Take 10, 15% off.

Take the list, take coupons, send it out and see how much money comes in from. And then you see it and you’re like, oh my God, that was a massive lift. Right.

Joe Howard: And that was easy.

Chris Lema: .And you’re like, and it was, it was yeah. 10 minutes of work. Um, so one of the things we’re doing with store owners is helping them think through what do you have?

What are the things you have to be looking at? What things you gotta be thinking about if you know that customers, if you, if you were able to look at your data set and say, which customers have always used a coupon. I mean, like every, like every order and you’re like, well, there’s a small set of the, you know, and small in this case might be 3000 customers.

And you’re like, there’s 3000 customers. Who’ve never bought a single, never made a single order without a coupon. So what do you think will trigger their next order? Send them a coupon. Right? So you’re like, okay, let’s go look at our new inventory and new, new merchandise, new something, grab a coupon, assign it to only those products, send it out to this group of people triggered. Order. Right.

Joe Howard: And what is sending, sending it out look like in terms of your infrastructure, does it have, does the management commerce have the ability within kind of things to, to be doing that emailing or is it connecting with other systems through other partnerships?

Chris Lema: It’s so what glue does is glue has a direct integration to MailChimp. They’re working on many more, but they have a direct integration with MailChimp. In fact, That integration allows MailChimp to be updated every day. So if they take a person that was a first order person, right? This is your first order. You’ve never bought anything else. You can put them in the first order group, the segment in MailChimp.

And then if they come back the next day and they order again, Right. You can move them into the second purchaser and remove them from the first person in MailChimp, from glue. Right? So glue’s doing some of that work, but if you don’t use glue, let’s say you use convert kit, there’s an export to Excel and you can pull it out and load it in there and go from there.

We obviously support sending emails, transactional emails, et cetera, but for more important stuff, you’re going to want to take the glue data and put it into your own email service writer or, or system that you use.

Joe Howard: Cool. Step back, even that story a little bit, and talk about the partnership with the glue that happened in the first place.

Obviously as Chris lemma, you have a little bit of clout. You can call a CEO and say, Hey, like I would like to make a deal. Or I, you know, I want to talk about what this looks like. Yeah, go ahead. Yeah.

Chris Lema: Well, so, so I didn’t like I got a hold of the CEO, which is great, but I didn’t get to call the CEO directly first.

The CEO’s phone number is not published anywhere. Right. So what you do is you call the sales guy, right. And, and every, every person who’s ever made a business development deal, no same thing. Right. You’re like, who’s going to. The sales guy is going to answer his phone, right? He’s going to, he’s going to answer his phone.

So you talk to the sales guy and you say, Hey, listen, I want to think about, uh, you know, this, this go to market together strategy, but I’m also like glue sells for $299. And if you are a month and if you are over, you know, a certain amount of revenue per month, it goes up to $399 a month. It’s clear. I don’t want to spend 300. On a plan that I charged $250 a month, right?

Joe Howard: The math doesn’t quite make sense there.

Chris Lema: Nope. So I only have a certain amount of margin. So what you do is you have the conversation, right? And you say, Hey, this is my target. This is your target. This is what I’m going after. This is what you’re going after.

There’s a lot of synergy here, whether we do a partnership or not, I can’t control, but I can pitch it. I can open up your eyes to a marketplace. We can talk about how big is WooCommerce and how many stores like, and that may not have been on their radar. Right. So when that starts percolating. Is when you say, Hey, who has the authority to negotiate a different deal?

That changes my price point. In this particular case, the VP of sales said, we’re going to need to get our CEO on the line, right. Because he’s going to have to, he’s going to have to take a risk. Right. He’s got, which is, uh, which is a good thing to happen. If someone has. I got to ask the guy, then you’re in the first store, you’re through the first store.

Right. And so then now you bring the CEO in the picture and again, and I say this all the time, right. But this is all a function of storytelling. Right? Can you tell the right story that the CEO wants to hear? CEO doesn’t wanna talk about integration. Doesn’t wanna talk about the code. Doesn’t wanna talk about the project that it’s going to take to integrate the things it doesn’t wanna about any of that.

Right. Wants to talk about available market attainable market, what nuances we bring to the table and why we can do something to help that market. So we start telling the story, right? I’m talking about my background, our background, what we know about WooCommerce, what’s WooCommerce doing in the world today.

And the more we’re having that conversation, the more they’re going know why wouldn’t we partner with these people? Right? Like it seems like a no brainer and why wouldn’t we want them to succeed and have their stores grow. Right. But they also have their own risk profile. So then we start talking. You know, how can we collaborate, make this thing work?

And we eventually got two numbers that made sense, and that I could put into my margin, right. That I could handle rather than, you know, $300 a month. And that’s when you, when you do that, right, right. When you tell the right stories and you connect the right people, you get to create certain stuff that now.

You know, you, if you go to, if you go to Shopify and you start with their basic reporting, it doesn’t tell you chat to match what we’re doing. You’re gonna have to go to their 2 99 plan and we’re at 2 49, so are ready. There’s a difference. But then you start going. Yeah, but it still doesn’t do this thing that glue does. And you go, well, then you should really come think about what we’re doing.

Joe Howard: Well, you said our storytelling is also very enlightening for me because I, along with other people in the WordPress space, kind of know you as someone who’s an extremely good storyteller in terms of the word camp talks you give.

And I love how you’re talking about now that translates directly into how to create strong partnerships, how to convince other people of your own value, how to show them that you are valuable for them, how to ask them how you can be more valuable for them. And at the end of the day, it comes back to kind of storyteller.

And having the conversations based on who your audience is and what they want to hear, because I know I’ve been to plenty of your word camp talks. I’m always like, man, like I’ve got some work to do from my storytelling perspective because, and not just for word camp talks, but just because it’s, it’s kind of what we went back to before talking about though, like one or two things that are really going to change your business.

Like these are pivotable, pivotal points. Like your, this partnership with glue was really big for you guys. Right. And it was big for them. And that created this synergy that allowed you to have such a significant growth. Two or so years of liquid web managed WooCommerce, but, uh, yeah, I think that’s just a, it’s a, that’s a good thing for people to be aware of that that’s a skill that’s I think potentially underrated and people want to do all sorts of, I’m a marketing expert.

I’m with this expert I’m with that expert, but storytelling is, uh, is really a big part of it.

Chris Lema: The core of the issue is how well do you understand the narrative that you’re playing in. Right. And I can’t tell you the number of times. I’ve stepped into a room with someone from the company I’m working with at the time, or with other, you know, uh, collaborators and friends and WordPress.

And we step in and we’re singing a song that is the wrong song, right? We’re we’re in the middle of one narrative. And we’re talking about the other narrative integrations and X and Ys. Right. It’s just incredible because you watch people at the other side of the table, just go, oh, I’m in the wrong meeting.

Like I shouldn’t be in this meeting. Right. Learning. How to know, okay, what’s the room I’m in. What’s the context of this. What’s the right narrative at the right level of abstraction for them. And then how do I tell it in a way that keeps people going, oh, I’m on my seat. I’m on the edge of my seat. I’m listening.

I want this right. And if I say to you, listen, there are 4 million woo commerce stores and they all struggle in three places. You’re next. Well, what are the three places, right?

Joe Howard: I’m thinking that right now. What are they?

Chris Lema: What are the three places? And I go, I’ll get back to that in a second right now. Here’s another thing we know there is. And all of a sudden you’re like, wait, wait, wait, why don’t you just do that? Why, why did you, why did you leave me hanging there to go somewhere else? Now I have to take you somewhere else. That’s equally interesting. Right. But if you, if you set, okay, here’s what I believe. What I believe is e-commerce is.

And you go. Yeah, but the U S the numbers aren’t as bad. It’s taught pause. I believe e-commerce is growing worldwide. Right. And in the U S it’s so down a little bit, but in the U S we’re seeing rapid growth on mobile. Right. So almost all the growth in e-commerce in the U S is mobile. Right. So now let’s talk about that.

That’s one piece right now. Let me give you another piece of this and that’s, and I start walking through the building blocks now you’re going okay. Wow. Okay. So. This guy has access to data. Like I don’t, where’s he getting the data? Where does he say? 92% of the growth came from mobile. Wait, where did, uh, what do you know that I don’t know.

Right. And how do I get you telling my team this data? Because I need that data too, right? So you’re just leading people and you’re giving them the little tidbits, but notice we’re staying way up high, right? Here’s a trend. Here’s another trend. These are all the swim lanes that are going to merge together into this story that I’m telling.

And then you’re like now, remember I said there was three, there was three issues that every, every 4 million store. Um, those 4 million stores, aren’t all in the U S right. But in the U S let me tell you that, and we start talking through this and all of a sudden, you’re like, oh, wait a minute, wait, I think I know where you’re going.

Are you going to say, it’s us, are you going to say, we can solve that problem? You’re going to create a problem that we actually solved, and then they go, okay, I want to be part of that then why wouldn’t I be part of that? I mean, you just, and it’s big numbers and I’m starting to calculate, okay. My revenue against that big number.

Okay. What, actually, this could be a revenue stream for us. Right. And so when you tell the right story, the right way, Right. You’re leading people exactly. To where you want them to be. And they’re nodding their head. Yes. Long before you make the ask. Right. When you don’t do any of that, when you jump in and you’re like, okay, so we were interacting with your API.

And we noticed that we had this problem and the other person said, what the hell is an API, right? Or worse. Yeah. Are these kids going to talk about an API all day? Right? Let’s get out of this room, close this meeting down. Right. So learning how to have the right. Learning how to shape that narrative, learning how to not sing the wrong song, right.

When everybody’s reading re you know, ready for one thing, don’t go back to it. Well, this is what I, you know, when, when I first started raising money, one of our early startups, I had a co-founder on one of our startups. And the problem was that he had memorized, like most of us do, right. He’d memorized a pitch.

This was the VC pitch, right? So he had 10 slides and he had two minutes per slide is 20 minutes of pitch. Like he just knew his script. So what do you think happens when the guy interrupts him? Right. And asks a different question and he’s just like, wait, hold on. I got to go back to my script. Like I gotta get back here and I gotta keep, and the guy’s like, I re skip all this.

Like I look through your deck, I’m done. I get it. Let’s go. I got something else. He’s like, no, no, no, but this is this, this is the dance I do. There’s a song. And you’re just stuck on the thing you do. And you don’t adapt or adjust you don’t learn from. And so we had some horrible meetings, right? Like you’re sitting in front of some of the most famous venture capitalists going.

I can’t believe I got this meeting and then you get in the door and my, and my partner would, would just keep monitoring straight through all this stuff yet. And the meeting would be like six minutes long. They’d be like, okay, Hey, thanks guys. We’ll follow up. And we’d be escorted out the room. Oh, dear God.

Oh shit. Yeah. So, you know, you learn pretty quickly, boy, I need to make the story interesting. I need to make a compelling, I need to make them the hero of the story, not me. Right. And, uh, if I do these things right, I keep you engaged when I get to the, Hey. So what do you think about doing this together? Done. How do we get started?

Joe Howard: Yes. The frame from which you come in terms of the storytelling reminds me very much of a Simon Sinek or maybe Simon sacral minds. Me of you. Well, maybe I’ll switch to the other way around, but, uh, the, his, uh, leadership approach seems. Man, it pulls you in from the moment he starts and it’s not just his ideas and concepts.

It’s his intonation. It’s the fact that he’s clearly like used similarly at WordCamp talks have practiced and practice and really know exactly how to deliver this perfectly. And it almost seems as if after you’re finished talking at word camps or after Simon Sinek, I would finish watching his movie.

Man, like, am I in two dimensional space right now? And he’s in three-dimensional space. Is there like a whole nother dimension of this I didn’t even see or experienced before, but that is really how I feel. And I think that that is like being on that higher level can, you know, from most people are not on that higher level are not, they’re not seeing the whole board, they’re not seeing the whole map.

And so another reason I like coming to beach precedent because I get to surround myself with other people who are way smarter than me, and I can really learn and pick from their ideas and, and maybe I can help them a little bit along the way. Uh, you know, selfishly it definitely helps me to develop myself professionally.

everywhere. I’ve seen elastic search has been it’s you better be ready for some complicated stuff. You know, you better have a technical team to handle that, but having the ability to, because people can install Jetpack. If you know how to, if you, if you know how to install Jetpack, you can use elastic search. Like that’s huge.

Chris Lema: It’s mind boggling. Right? When we saw it, we were like, really you’re going to do that because I spent a year trying to work out partnerships to do elastic search for our customers. And I’m like, I can’t make it work. I gotta buy more servers. I gotta set up staff. I gotta do. I’m like, I just can’t make it work.

And with jet pack, I can. Right. So that’s, we’re excited about that. Other than that, we just finished putting the finishing touches on our WordPress platform for large sites. So customers who have a hundred sites, 200 sites, 300 sites, price point wise, it’s insane. Right? Like if you go to several other hosts, you’re looking at, even at 300 sites, you’ll look at something like $12 a site or $10 a site.

And I think we have a down. Three 50 a site, right? I mean, it’s just massively better price. We’ve done a bunch of the work to make it support that. Cause we have some customers and I hope to have more that are doing things where they’re using WordPress for more than just a blog. Right. And so when you start watching some of these SAS companies that are spinning up instances of WordPress, as part of their SAS, we go, how do we support that?

Right. Well, you got to support it when someone says, well, 300 radio stations doing streaming, blah, blah, blah. How do I do 300 sites? And you’re like, okay, I can help you with that. Right. Or how do I do this? And so it’s interesting to see where that goes and how large site plans work. But yeah, there’s a lot, a lot of fun stuff.

We’re getting ready to drive some new pricing on. We bought themes a year ago and Matt Danner is stepping into the GM role. And one of the first things he’s doing is making pricing adjustments to the items, hosting product, to bring it down to like $5 a month. So liquid web isn’t in that space, but I think this is going to go down, down that space. So it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out and how well it connects to a certain segment of the audience.

Joe Howard: Yeah. Yeah. Beyond 2019 WordPress. So, you know, liquid web in the manageable commerce space, you see a significant bet on WooCommerce, a significant bet on WordPress. You know, I know there’s kind of a crew of people that are kind of pushing to have, you know, WordPress at 51% of the web.

Is that something you guys are kind of thinking about in terms of kind of long-term strategy? I mean, are you kind of like thinking, you know, Continue to push WordPress to the, to the limits of where it can be. And eventually, hopefully have a, you know, a majority open source web.

Chris Lema: So I think having an open web and having e-commerce played out on the open on open platforms is critical.

I I’m a big fan of that. So I’m pushing for that. I don’t particularly push for a percentage, right? Whether it’s 33% or 34% or 38% or 50% or 7%. I’m not motivated by a number for the sake of the number. And I don’t think anyone who talks about it is, but I’m just not that doesn’t drive it. But today, if you do a Google search on e-commerce, Google thinks of e-commerce as synonymous with Shopify.

And unfortunately that’s a closed. It’s not opensource. You don’t own everything. You pay fees for being more and more successful, your fees go up. Right. And all of a sudden you’re like, wow, this is, this is costly and painful. I want customers to have an open platform where they can grow and do their, their e-commerce business.

And if that means, yeah, as a by-product of that, we get to 50% saturation for WordPress because WooCommerce is sitting on a frisk. That’d be awesome. But it’s really the driver of getting people to realize, Hey, I want to own my own stuff. I want to make sure that I control that I don’t want to pay transaction fees every time I get more and more successful.

And that I, I have a suite of solutions, you know, whether it’s fraud or reporting or anything else where people are going, wow, this is a real. Fantastic integrated all in one solution. It’s not, oh, it’s WooCommerce. It’s yes. It’s WooCommerce and yes, it’s WordPress, but it’s also several other things because we’re trying to create a total solution, not a patchwork.

When most people do it themselves, they create a patchwork solution. Right. And then there’s always these little ancillary consequential issues that are challenging here and there. And we’re seeing. Let’s just get you to one total solution that gives you everything you need.

Joe Howard: Yeah. I think that’s part of the challenge of WordPress in itself is that because it’s open source, which has its advantages, like you just said, it’s also somewhat of a zombified product.

The fact that you have to use different plugins or themes and a core files all together, it makes it challenging just in its own and create a website in the first place. But if you have this layer that just runs pretty smoothly on top of everything. Oh, this nice, beautiful UX is nice dashboard. You can just do all your stuff from here.

That in itself is a game changer, because I think, you know, when people think about, you know, uh, when the general person thinks about what, you know, WordPress UX looks like in a medium WordPress, uh, UX looks like you’re going to say, hold up though. Of course the medium UX is fantastic. It’s so easy to use.

You know, they have their own problems and issues as well. But if you’re just speaking generally from that point of view, That’s huge. And so the fact that you’re coming into WordPress, not only helping people improve their stores, improve the revenues, but also improve their experience with WordPress, I think is essential.

Especially the people who are making the money in the WordPress space that people were running WooCommerce.

Chris Lema: Yeah. That’s exactly it. And, and uh, if you go to another host, any other hosts, right? And you install the six plugins that your developer told you to install for your WooCommerce store and whatever.

Within about two months, you’re going to have a bunch of little red dots that tell you, you got to update this and update that and update this, but you have no clue, right. What’s going to happen. Right. And part of what we built when we first started with WordPress and now exists in WooCommerce is we have an entire system that will make a copy of your site.

Take pictures of it, update a single plugin, take more pictures, do the visual diff. Make sure nothing’s broken and then send a command to production and say, okay, you can update this one plugin and then it does it all over again. And that ability to update plugins automatically and get an email that says, Hey, everything’s good.

We just did. This is massive for everyday people who their experience right was, oh gosh, the first day I had my medium site or the first day of my WooCommerce site or WordPress site, it was fine. But two months later, just all these dots, I don’t know what to do. I don’t have someone to help me. I don’t even know what I should do.

Right. That’s where all of a sudden the, the experience starts eroding. Right? And we said, no, no, no. We can solve that.

Joe Howard: It’s a huge pain point for people. You know, I think that’s a great place to end menu. We’ve had an awesome conversation day. I learned a ton. So selfishly, I’m just pumped. I got to learn so much. Why don’t you tell people where they can find you online Twitter? Et cetera.

Chris Lema: Yeah. Uh, you can find me@chrislemma.com. You can find me@leaders.blog. You can find me@liquidweb.com. You can find me on Twitter at, at Chris lemma on YouTube at Mr. Chris lemma. Um, you can also find me on Instagram at Mr. Kusama, but that’s just cigar photos. So that’s not going to do you any good, unless you really like cigars.

Joe Howard: The cigar press. If you’re a cigar press, sorta person, then check out the Instagram. The last thing we always like guests to do is give a little shout out to people to give a little iTunes review. So you wanna help us out.

Chris Lema: Absolutely. Hey, if you are listening and you haven’t gone to iTunes yet and click the button and given us a review, do that right now. Don’t wait a couple minutes. Don’t even wait an hour because you’re going to forget to do it. That’s the way your. Right now at this moment is the time you want to click the button.

So get over there, give the review, tell them, Hey, this was a great episode. All the other boats have been fantastic. You love it. Click the review button, do it now. And then you won’t have to do anything else. Yeah.

Joe Howard: Boom, goodness. Set up better myself. We set up, I set up a nice little redirect. So I have WP mrr.com forward slash iTunes.

You type that in and redirect you right there. It’s so easy. Um, yeah. Five star reviews go a long way. So we would really appreciate. Uh, and if you liked this episode, say, yo, Chris was awesome in the comments so that we can give them a little bit of good feedback from it. You can send questions or comments to yell@wpmrr.com.

And if you have any questions, uh, we’ll get it answered on the pod. So we will catch you next week, Chris. Thanks again. This is dope.

Chris Lema: Take care.

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